As an athlete this was a question I often heard during practice and on the playing field from coaches and fellow athletes.  Are you hurt or are you injured?  The difference was a simple explanation: if you where hurt you could still play, if you were injured you could not.

For a practical example it comes down to this: a sprained ankle or broken leg. Now we could argue the particulars. But that would for another article.  Today I pose the question as it relates to whether you should workout while you are hurt or injured?

When I train clients whom have suffered an injury I work under the following guidelines:

  • Pain
  • Posture
  • Range of Motion
  • Function

Pain– Using pain as a guideline I can select exercises that do not cause my client any additional pain.  There may be some discomfort, but the point is to work pain free.

Posture– During the injury phase the body will begin to compensate mechanically to accomplish day to day tasks. In the short term this is how the body adapts.  The trouble is as the body heals it doesn’t naturally go back to proper mechanics.  It will continue to use the compensated pathway established.  The goal when training an injured area is to maintain the best posture permitted by the injured area.

Range of Motion– Goal is to maintain and improve on the range of motion of the injured and often times the surrounding area.  The body will compensate by restricting the range of motion of a joint when injured.  If left unattended the range of motion will stay restricted even after the injury has healed.  Focusing on maintain and increasing the range of motion as the injured area heals will lead to less pain and complications later.

Function– The idea here is to be able to return to pre-injury function.  That is to be able to do all the things to a similar degree following the injury.  In some cases we do have to establish a new normal, but we want to as close as possible to the pre-injury function.

In the end keep things simple.  Don’t settle for being hurt or injured work to get better.  In the long run you will have a more productive and active life.

One last point, if you are injured and are referred to see a physical therapist… Go!!! Do what is asked, take an active role in your recovery.